Neighbours (Episode 1)

Volunteer Christina shares her local knowledge.

“Everybody needs good neighbours” so the theme song of a famous TV programme of the same name states. Through this last year a lot of us have got to know our neighbours more with chats while spending time in our gardens or on our walks …..all socially distanced of course!!

This and my interest in social and local history got me to thinking about the Ninewells Community Garden’s neighbours and I thought it would be fun to do a wee bit of research on them and write a blog about them. Well, me being me, I kept finding more stuff so it’ll be a few blogs over next few weeks!

So let’s start with the obvious one…. to the north we have Ninewells Hospital.

Ninewells Hospital was opened in 1974. When it opened it was the first new teaching hospital built since the 19th Century. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in October 1974 and was the biggest hospital in Scotland.
For a couple of decades it worked in tandem with Dundee Royal Infirmary and Kings Cross Hospital but further building in the 1990s for DRI and 2000s for Kings Cross brought all in-patient acute care to Ninewells and the closing of DRI completely.

To be a teaching hospital there has to be a link for medical students to a university with some medical staff having dual roles with university and hospital. In Ninewells’ case the link is with Dundee University with medical students graduating from there. In the past there would also have been a hospital based Nursing College and this was the case for Ninewells with the training hospital moving from DRI to Ninewells. Both nurses and midwives were trained at Ninewells college and as was the way in those days you received a hospital badge at the end of your training and above is a photograph of my own midwifery badge from Ninewells college.The nursing college no longer exists but was housed in building to east of arboretum where the cafe and swimming pool are. Nowadays Nurses are university trained and so as with the doctors, graduate from Dundee University though there were general nurses who did a degree course at Dundee College of Technology (now Abertay University) who did their clinical placements at Ninewells before this and I was one of them!!!!

The front entrance of the hospital had an open but covered section with the stained glass windows of the Nine Trades and inside those of you who remember Ninewells in 70s and 80s will remember the concourse area was a large and open area without the shops it has now but with kiosks up the middle. From memory one was a florist, and one a newsagent, but I can’t remember the third though I’m sure there were 3….. perhaps someone can help.

The concourse has adapted over the years, with a cafe and shops built in, Penguins and Our Wullies taking up residence, there is even a museum at the far end with medical artefacts and plaques from DRI but it is still an important place for us all, as the entrance to an amazing part of Dundee and a great neighbour to us at the garden.

P.S. Ever wondered why called Ninewells? It’s believed to be due to series of fresh water springs that appear periodically in the area, one of which can still be seen occasionally running over Perth Road just west of Invergowrie Drive.

Text and photos by Christina Howie

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